International Conference in Toyota City on 6 March 2021 - 1 Apr 2021On 6 March 2021, UNCRD co-organized an online international conference titled "Think SDGs 2021" on Smart and Sustainable Communities with COVID-19, in collaboration with Toyota City in Aichi Prefecture. Approximately 1,200 people from 20 countries registered and learned how we should live in the era of a "New Normal", adopting a new lifestyle and network resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the beginning of the conference, Mr. Amson Sibanda, Chief of the Division for Sustainable Development Goals in the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), delivered pre-recorded video message as its opening remarks. Then Mr. Kazushige Endo, Director of UNCRD, made a presentation regarding SDG projects in UNCRD, especially he introduced a research on monitoring and dissemination which are important on SDG management for local governments. After that, Mr. Togo Uchida, Director of the ICLEI Japan, made a keynote speech about the role of the world and regions for SDG implementation.
The thematic sessions were discussed on Toyota City's SDGs priority areas: mobility; energy; and wellness. In the first session "Mobility", Mr. Toshihiko Ota, Mayor of Toyota city, and panelists from a private sector and Nagoya University discussed on how should we create local city mobility in the age of living with and post COVID-19. One of the main topics was the possibility of cars as social infrastructure, i.e., cars would become generators and supply electricity when disasters cause a widespread blackout.
The next session "Wellness", which was titled "The 'We Love Toyota City' initiative promoted by Toyota SDGs Partners", the members of local stakeholders' network "Toyota SDGs Partners" shared their ideas on: events on education and development of next generation; community supporters on disaster; and meeting for helping each other. These three ideas were come up through their working for half a year.
In the last session "Energy", Mr. Minoru Takada, Team Leader of Energy from UN DESA, and local government officials from France, Indonesia, Malaysia, and United Kingdom participated as panelists and discussed about impact of COVID-19 on cities' environment and energy policies. The panelists shared their problems and policies including a viewpoint of green recovery.
In this way, the thematic sessions were discussed by the panelists from variety of stakeholders such as local government officials, experts, private sectors, and the civil society through domestic and international good practices and as a result, the conference was effective output under the COVID-19 pandemic.